Dear Constituents –
Floor time was very quiet this week, with H.315, an act relating to COVID-19 relief, being postponed each day for further work on the funding mechanism – the majority party believes that waiting for the new federal American Recovery Plan Act dollars, which haven’t yet been disbursed or have adequate guidelines, is preferable to the minority party position on using General Fund dollars and saving the ARPA money for other needs that are yet to be determined; we have until 2024 to use them, and it is not clear yet how they should be used. The other floor action was an unanimous, affirmative vote of 146-0 on JRH.2, an apology to all Vermonters and their families for harm caused to them by State-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices. It was with a feeling of satisfaction that this was passed by so many Representatives who have differing views, yet who came together on this issue to agree that an apology was needed. My Committee worked on this legislation for many years, and I’ve had the privilege to be a part of that work for the past two years.
Committee time was entirely taken up with hearing new bill introductions – relating to Recovery Residences, collective bargaining, Vietnam Veterans, tiny houses, abandoned swimming pools – and amendments to H.157, registration of residential construction contractors. This is a bill that is walking a fine line between its stated intent of consumer protection and regulation of the only other industry in Vermont that this would be a requirement for besides Funeral Directors. I remain unconvinced that this bill serves the purpose for which it is intended, and after hearing from constituents, I will not support it as it leaves my Committee on Tuesday. As it is currently written, I believe it will put unnecessary burdens on small, local contractors who are well-known to their neighbors and who often do business by word of mouth and with a handshake. We also heard about the re-start of a well-used, re-named Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP), which will open to tenants on April 5 and landlords on April 7 on the Vermont State Housing Authority website, and will include both rental and utility arrears assistance.
Legislative Caucuses held informative meetings on bills coming from the Senate that will affect rural areas (REDWnG), a presentation on the Vermont Outdoor Community Recreation Program and Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance grants and services (Tourism Caucus), another presentation on innovative new programs in our corrections institutions for women (Women’s Caucus), and information on the re-opening of Adult Day Programs (Older Vermonters Caucus).
As we all move into the vaccination-eligible stages in the next few weeks, please remember that public health protocols are still necessary to keep our community safe.
Representative Lisa A Hango